That Time Again

Discussion in 'Maples' started by Kaitain4, Jan 3, 2011.

  1. Kaitain4

    Kaitain4 Well-Known Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    Well folks, its that time of year again - time to think about grafting!! Yep, I'm getting everything ready in the studio for what I hope will be a successful grafting season. I spent the weekend cleaning, organizing, and ordering the supplies I need.

    I also had my understock order delivered in mid-December. I like to get it early so I have complete control over bringing the understock up to warmth prior to grafting. They need to sit outside for a few weeks, since Oregon is practically like the Garden of Eden compared to my climate. I want them to have a taste of Tennessee weather before I use them. I order the understock from Heritage Seedlings in Oregon. They have very uniform sizes and consistant quality. Their understock is pretty much guaranteed to be pseudomonus-free, because they never let their plants get touched by frost.

    The plants are generic Acer palmatum 'Green' seedlings that come as medium-sized "plugs". The diameter is 3/16", although I would prefer 1/4". No pots at all, just roots with a little potting medium. The plugs are bundled in groups of 25 which are taped together. As soon as I get my order, I take them from the boxes and put the bundles in large pots filled with cedar shavings. I put these outside in a protected spot so they'll be sure to stay dormant until I'm ready to graft.

    Three weeks before grafting, I pot up the understock in 4" pots and put them in the studio. I keep the studio at 60 degrees or thereabouts. This allows the roots to come out of dormancy, but isn't warm enough to make them really flush out on top. When I can see visible signs of root growth, the understock is ready and I can begin my first grafts. This year I have 350 understock to play with. More to come...
     

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    Last edited: Jan 3, 2011
  2. katsura

    katsura Active Member 10 Years

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    May the gods of grafting smile on your generous soul, Doug.
    Good luck!
    I began my 2011 search for new cultivars today as well.
     
  3. sasquatch

    sasquatch Active Member

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    After last year's failures I don't have high hopes, but I've got 45 seedlings to try again this year. I'm hoping that I get it right this year. Hopefully, following all your great information will help me succeed.
     
  4. Kaitain4

    Kaitain4 Well-Known Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    Mike,

    You crack me up! Let us know if you find any exciting new cultivars. I found one I want to try called 'Mendocino Momiji' from Robert.


    Sasquatch,

    Don't be discouraged! Practice makes perfect, as they say. I had much better success the second year as opposed to the first year. Hopefully it will get better each time.

    One thing I'm going to try this year I saw from Dave Verkade when I was at Ed Shinn's maple viewing last spring - rather than bagging each individual plant he put the entire tray of grafts in a large bag. He was using much smaller rootstock, but I thought I would try that on a tray or two this time and compare the success rate with my normal method.
     
  5. emery

    emery Contributor Maple Society 10 Years

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    How about the pseudosieboldianum rootstock, did you manage to get any?

    cheers and good luck with this year's campaign,

    -E
     
  6. Kaitain4

    Kaitain4 Well-Known Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    Emery,

    I did get a few pseusosiebolianum understock, but I had to pot them up and let them grow for a year because they were so spindly. We'll see how they do this time.

    Here are a few pics of potting up the understock. I'm using a 4" square pot with special trays to hold them. They trays are designed to let you get pots in and out easily. I know some people like to keep the pots tiny, but I like mine to have a little "wiggle room" in the root area. I'm using an organic potting mix that has mycorrhizae fungi included. I think that's important for a new plant, and especially since the understock has come from a somewhat sterile environment. I also like this mix because its got a seaweed base. It holds moisture extremely well without being soggy or moldy. It doesn't last a long time, but it doesn't have to in this case. After grafting, these plants will all get potted up into 1 gallon containers in June, where they will stay for a year or so in a longer-lasting potting mix.
     

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  7. Kaitain4

    Kaitain4 Well-Known Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    Finished! Here's what 350 understock look like all potted up...
     

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  8. Kaitain4

    Kaitain4 Well-Known Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    Let the grafting begin!!!

    Yes, folks, that magical day arrived this weekend and I actually did a few grafts! (see pic) It felt good, I can tell you. Almost as much fun was the preparation, which included a complete inventory of cultivars, checking each plant in the garden; creating and installing all new garden markers for my collection; compiling a list of cultivars I do and do not have grafts of; and then matching the desired number of grafts with the number of available understock plants. I have 350, plus 15 or so odds and ends suitable for grafting and another 8 or 10 Acer pseudosieboldianum seedlings to try out as understock. My experiment this time is to see if ssp. takesimense will take on these understock and result in a more hardy version of that sub-species. Plus I'll graft a few palmatums and others to see if any take.

    Ahhhh! Feels good to be doing something in the garden!
     

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  9. koiboy

    koiboy Member

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    Hi there Kaitain. I'm curious which grafting method you are choosing to use this time. I remember a long time back that you had started to try what you called the 8 point graft which entailed sort of a diagonal insert of the scion instead of lining up the cambrium on one side. Which one are you doing this year and why?
     
  10. Kaitain4

    Kaitain4 Well-Known Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    Koiboi,

    I'm using several methods this time. The 8-point graft is probably the most used. I'm also using the traditional side-graft method. And this year I'm going to experiment with the Dick Van der Maat method, which I suppose is a type of side-graft but varies in technique a bit. He demonstrated it at the Maple Conference a while back. I'm going to do a whole tray with his method and put a large palstic bag over the whole thing, as opposed to individually bagging each graft.

    http://www.dvandermaat.com/ go to the menu item called "Grafting"

    As to why, well I guess I want to stick with what works. The 8-point graft works well for me, but really short scions or extremely thick scions do better with the traditional side graft. I have a really high rate of grafts that "take", but I tend to kill them off by over-watering. This year I'm really cutting back on the water to try and bring the success rate up a bit. We'll see how it all turns out. At this point, each graft is an adventure! LOL!
     
  11. Kaitain4

    Kaitain4 Well-Known Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    LATEST

    Grafting is going along in earnest now. I've done about 140 grafts. Collected a bunch of scion wood this morning as temps are predicted to get down pretty cold the rest of this week. I now have enough material to keep me busy!
     

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  12. sasquatch

    sasquatch Active Member

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    Nice job. I pulled my rootstock in last week, but don't think I'm going to have time to try grafting this season. I just got a new puppy on Saturday, so the next few weeks will be busy.

    My rootstock were getting pretty woody at this point, so I wonder if they would have still been good for grafting. Do you need the rootstock to be green and soft barked when grafting, or can you use 3 year old rootstock?
     
  13. Kaitain4

    Kaitain4 Well-Known Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    Thanks!

    I think you can use 3 year old plants, just might be harder to cut.
     
  14. Kaitain4

    Kaitain4 Well-Known Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    UPDATE

    350 grafts done so far. I ran out of understock and had to order 100 more from Heritage. Got those potted up and cut off the tops to let them bleed.

    The exciting part is that I now have grafts starting to sprout! That's always a relief when you see the first signs that your grafting was successful. Of course, that doesn't mean you're out of the woods. I've had plenty sprout, only to die later - mostly due, I think, to my over-zealous watering. I'm being very conservative this year and am keeping things drier than I ever have. I even bought a moisture meter to test the dryness of the soil. Hopefully I'll get better each year.
     

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  15. timnichols

    timnichols Active Member Maple Society

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    Katain4,

    Looks like your grafts are coming along well! It's so exciting to see things start leafing out, especially if its a new cultivar for you. Thanks for the updates!

    Tim
     
  16. Kaitain4

    Kaitain4 Well-Known Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    Tim,

    Thanks to you I have a number of new cultivars this year! LOL!


    Doug
     
  17. Kaitain4

    Kaitain4 Well-Known Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    TENTING

    I have tons of grafts that have "taken" and are now pushing new growth. The problem I face is this - there isn't enough room in the little 2x8 inch poly bags I put over the scions for the leaves when they pop out. Additionally, its too dry in the house (even with a humidifier going) to simply remove the poly bag and let the leaves unfurl unimpeded. I tried that before and they shriveled up in hours. The new grafts are just a few weeks old and are far too tender and delicate for any kind of stress like that. So my solution is to create a miniature greenhouse around each plant in a process I call "Tenting".

    Its pretty simple - a few bamboo skewers ($1.00 for 100 at Wal Mart) and a 1 gallon plastic bag, the type made for bread that has a twist-tie and not a "zip" closure.

    In the pics below you can see that the graft has to be vigorously sprouting before I do this. When you see growth like that in the first picture you can safely assume the graft has taken. Next I cut off the understock to about an inch or so above the graft union. At this point I don't want to do anything that would disturb or stress the graft union, since it is so new and weak. Then I simply make the little tent and use a twist-tie to seal up the bottom. At this point I also give the grafts a sizeable drink of water.

    The result is nice, roomy little capsule with plenty of local humidity to keep the new graft happy and thriving. Its easy to lift the poly bag up a bit if a plant needs a little more room to grow. After a month or so I also start raising the bag up to lower the humidity in the tent and "harden off" the graft in preparation for removing the tent altogether. You have to do that before you take the grafts outside once frost danger is past.

    The last 2 pics are of a flowering Japonicum graft (love those flowers), and a graft using 2 year old wood. I know most people say to use last season's growth when cuting scions, but I really like the twiggier look on some of the older, less vigourous growth. So far I'm having good success grafting these branches, and the new graft looks more like a miniature tree to me. We'll see over time if these grafts perform as well as the ones using vigorous, current wood.
     

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  18. sasquatch

    sasquatch Active Member

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    Impressive results. You see to really have the method working well.

    How did the experiment work out with the bag over a whole tray of trees?
     
  19. Kaitain4

    Kaitain4 Well-Known Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    So far the success rate of grafts "taking" is about 95%, but the failures will keep coming as things leaf out and then - for one reason or another - simply don't make it. Some failures are probably due to over-watering, which I'm notorious for but which I'm really trying to watch this year. Some are due to understock failure, which I had a lot of last year but only one example so far this year. I kept my understock better protected from the weather this time. Some will be from fungal attack, which I try to address but I refuse to spray fungicide inside my house! (maybe SOMEDAY I'll have a greenhouse). And then some grafts just seem to die for no reason at all. I've had them fully leafed out, happy, vigorous - and them wham! They just die within days. Hopefully as I do this I'll get better each year.

    The "Big Bag" experiment didn't happen. The plan was to graft a tray of old stand-by cultivars (in case it was a big failure) like Osakazuki, Hogyoku, Higasa yama, etc. and use an oven roasting bag (turkey size) to cover the whole thing, rather than bag each individual graft. But I got so many scions of new cultivars I hadn't tried before this year that I couldn't spare a whole tray of understock for the experiment. I even bought 100 more understock at the last minute and it still wasn't enough! Will have to try again next year.

    This week's experiment is grafting onto some Acer pseudosieboldianum understock. I think the understock is about dried out enough and I'm cutting off the tops today. If they finish bleeding out they'll get grafted on Saturday. Some of these other species are quite different to work with than Acer palmatum. I did a lot of A. sieboldianum grafts of various sorts this year, and their stems are actually fuzzy - some ridiculously so. The fuzz gets in the way of a clean graft, so its best to scrub off the stem. A. shirasawanum is a little difficult to work with because the stems are more fibrous than A. palmatum, and those fibers raise up whn you cut the scion. I think this contributes to more graft failures. And then there's A. robustum, which seems oddly prone to fungal attack on the new grafts, yet in the garden has no problems at all. I think it has some sort of "sticky" substance on young stems that must promote fungal growth when it gets in a closed up, humid environment like a poly bag.

    Anyway, its always an adventure, and I'm having a lot of fun with it this year. It really helps to have something garening related to do during the bleak winter months.
     
  20. Kaitain4

    Kaitain4 Well-Known Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    When Things Go Wrong

    As exciting as it may be when the grafts start sprouting and success seems assured, there is always the "gotcha", and the disappointment of failed grafts. You can't graft and not have failures - its inevitable. Even when things seem to be going well something unexpected will crop up and you'll lose a graft or have a set back. Below are two examples.

    The first two pictures are of a 'Fjellheim' graft that seems to be doing nicely. Notice the green leaves starting to appear - successful graft! NOT!! The second picture reveals that "burnt match-stick" look of a failed graft at the graft union. In this case, the scion had enough "juice" in it to start pushing leaves on its own - but it was doomed. I will re-graft the understock lower down, but this 'Fjellheim' is a flop.

    The third picture shows a problem I have mainly on dissectums. The new growth comes out so rapidly that the plant can't keep up, and the tips of the stems dry out. It doesn't help that I'm doing all these grafts in my heated, dry family room; but this is a frustrating problem. The plant won't die, but it will lose the end of the new shoots, and thus some growth and energy for the season. Not sure how to solve this one except get a green house where I can control the humidity better....
     

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  21. Galt

    Galt Active Member

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    K4--
    It looks like you the space...given all the time you invest in bags and tenting and the like, why no small greenhouse. I would think that a 10x10 poly house would satisfy the space you need for your current level of grafting.....that might be just a bit small..I think I got 250 in that size house last I had one. Even if you did not purchase a fabricated house, a lot can be managed with pvc/conduit and poly sheeting. Maybe you have said before. In any case, I would bet that you still have similar periodic issues with losing the dissectum tips.

    Just curious.....
     
  22. Kaitain4

    Kaitain4 Well-Known Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    Well, I'm not into a temporary structure or "hoop house". I'd rather wait and build something more permanent....its all a matter of money at this point.
     
  23. Galt

    Galt Active Member

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    That makes sense--the obvious I suppose. I am without greenhouses this year and adapted some of your indoor techniques with some success. I admire that you have made things work, as it is a real challenge to graft indoors (from garage to office to kitchen). I ended up battling fungus. It wasn't a problem until after the 4 week mark, but after that, it has been an issue. Too hard to balance moisture and humidity with so little air movement under the bags, tenting, etc. Move everything outside today to brave the elements--we'll see.
    Regards.
     
  24. Kaitain4

    Kaitain4 Well-Known Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    I have fungus problems as well. Try Neem Oil. Is safe for use indoors too...
     
  25. Galt

    Galt Active Member

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    Thanks...was using the Bayer product you have used, but was having to use every 7-10 days. Too much of a pain. The grafts have been outside unprotected for two days now and doing well. I have some pushing leaves and chutes and they are holding up. Just covering at night for now. The light out there is better anyway. We are in the mid 50'sF during the day and high 30sF at night now. Many of the other maples are well into budswell and some have broken, so I am hopeful...just now seeing some of the star magnolias just start open the last day or two. Time will tell...what an adventure.
     

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